Taking journalism into restricted areas of Bintulu
By Patricia Hului
It is not every day you find yourself in restricted areas…even for journalists.
But 25 journalists from 22 different media organisation had the opportunity to visit a number of restricted areas in Bintulu during Kembara Media Sarawak, an event organised by the Department of Information twice a year to strengthen networking between government department and various media organisations.
Held over four days from Mar 14 till 17, the media got to visit the Bakun Dam, Press Metal Sdn Bhd and Samalaju Port at Samalaju Industrial Park and Malaysia Liquefied Natural Gas Manufacturer (MLNG) Bintulu.
Kembara Media Sarawak also made its way to Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Kampung Assyakirin, Pasar Utama Bintulu, Uma Belor Sungai Asap,
Media practitioners from various types of platform from radio broadcasting, online portals, TV programmes to newspaper reporting such as TV Al-Hijrah, Cats FM, Sarawakiana and FINAS Sarawak attended the event aimed to serve as a platform for the state government to explain on current issues to the media.
The entourage had an unforgettable experience; being welcomed with ‘parap’ (a folklore song) by the Kayan community of Uma Belor, looking over eight massive turbines of Bakun dam powerhouse, touring the whole area of MLNG by bus and even ‘bertandak’ with state Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.
While in these restricted areas, Kembara Media participants and organisers alike were asked to follow certain rules. In most parts of these areas especially in Bakun dam and MLNG, filming and photography were restricted leaving the participants only with memories to hold on to and hoping to describe them in words later.
The walkabouts in these restricted areas were the crème de la crème of the trip.
Three journalists shared their experience during Kembara Media 2016 in Bintulu with The Borneo Post SEEDS.
For Cleophas John Gordon from New Sabah Times who found it a good overall experience, he got the chance to see the difference in heavy industry growth between Sabah and Sarawak.
He observed that the development in Sarawak focused on heavy industries whereas in Sabah there was an attempt to develop heavy industry but was not that booming compared to Sarawak.
As a Sabahan, Cleophas could not help but say that he was a bit jealous of Sarawak because the development over here was rapid.
“In terms of development in Sarawak, what I can see is that it has provided a lot of opportunities to the locals here, not just locals, in fact I have seen a lot of west Malaysians working over here,” Cleophas stated, “Thus, it provides good job opportunity and overall it is good for Sarawak and the whole country.”
He hoped that it would be more beneficial toward Sarawak.
According to the Kota Kinabalu-based journalist, the information, experience and knowledge he received over the past four days was invaluable.
“It is not every day you get to enter restricted areas such as Bakun dam and the MLNG. If it was not for Kembara Media, I don’t think I would be able to visit those places on regular basis or occasionally,” he said.
Broadcast journalist Ahmad Fazwan Azmie Abdul Halil from Bernama Radio shared it was his first time joining Kembara Media and his first visit to Bintulu.
He also found his experience in Uma Belor to be memorable adding that he was impressed by the progress the community achieved in terms of education and economy.
“We also saw their closeness and unity as part of a society in Sarawak. That is something we should learn from,” said Ahmad, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur for this programme.
He vowed to come back to Bintulu but also added Kuching, Sibu and Miri to his destination list.
“I am excited to join Kembara Media because I am able to exchange views and get to meet new friends from Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak,” he enthused.
Ahmad stated, “We have seen the development in Sarawak together and we have shared a lot of experience during this programme.”
“I have an interesting experience meeting other media practitioners from Peninsular and Sabah,” said Remid Tajan from RAKAN Sarawak or Sarawak State Government Civil Service Bulletin.
He felt fortunate to join this Kembara Media because for Remid, not everyone has the opportunity to step in hard to reach areas such as Bakun, Samalaju Industrial Park and MLNG.
As a Sarawakian, he was proud to see the development in Bintulu which is helping make Sarawak a high income and developed state.
He added, “For instance, the oil and gas industry in MLNG is helping to create employment opportunities for the local people especially in Bintulu.
“The same thing goes to Bakun and Samalaju which brought a lot of changes to Bintulu that we can see in the future that it will be an important industrial city for Sarawak.”
The Kuching-based journalist said he was excited to be able to see himself the rapid development which is happening in Bintulu.
Remid said, “My favourite part of this trip is being able to visit Uma Belor because I had the chance to visit the new resettlement areas of the Kayan people, mingle with them, taste their food and make memories with them.
“Furthermore, I left a mark there since I helped painting part of the longhouse.”
According to Information Department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, the next Kembara Media is expected to be held in Johor later this year.
More photos during Kembara Media 2016 in Bintulu from Mar 14-17: